The last time you ate dinner with family, you were quite aggravated. Not because of any intra-family episode (though there’s always some of that). No, the cause of the stress was simple: it was loud, and you couldn’t hear a thing. So you didn’t get the opportunity to ask about Dave’s new kitten or Sally’s new job. It was frustrating. You try to play it off as if the room’s acoustics are to blame. But you have to acknowledge that it might be a problem with your hearing.
It’s not usually suggested to self diagnose hearing loss because it’s incredibly challenging to do. But you should watch for certain warning signs. When enough red flags show up, it’s time to make an appointment with us for a hearing exam.
Hearing loss’s early signs
Not every sign and symptom of hearing loss is evident. But you may be dealing with hearing loss if you can relate to any of the items on this list.
Here are some of the most prevalent early signs of hearing loss:
- You have a difficult time hearing conversations in a crowded or noisy place. This is precisely what happened during the “family dinner” example above, and it’s commonly an early signal of trouble with hearing.
- Your ears are ringing: This ringing (it can actually be other noises too) is called tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t always related to hearing issues, but it is frequently an early warning sign of hearing loss, so a hearing test is probably needed.
- You have difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds. Maybe you find your tea kettle has been screeching for five minutes without your knowledge. Or maybe the doorbell rings, and you never notice it. Hearing loss generally affects particular frequencies normally higher pitched frequencies.
- A friend points out that your media devices are getting increasingly louder. Perhaps you keep cranking the volume up on your cell phone. Or maybe, you have your TV volume turned up to max. Usually, it’s a family member or a friend that points out the loud volumes.
- You’re suddenly finding it difficult to hear when you’re talking on the phone: Texting is popular nowadays, so you may not take as many phone calls as you once did. But if you’re having difficulty understanding the phone calls you do get (even with the volume turned all the way up), you may be experiencing another red flag for your hearing.
- You frequently need people to repeat what they said. This is especially true if you’re asking multiple people to speak slower, say something again, or speak up. This early sign of hearing impairment could be occurring without you even noticing.
- You find that some sounds become oppressively loud. It’s one of the more uncommon early warning signs linked to hearing loss, but hyperacusis is common enough that you may find yourself encountering its symptoms. If specific sounds become oppressively loud (particularly if the issue doesn’t go away in short order), that may be an early hearing loss symptom.
- Certain words are difficult to understand. This symptom happens when consonants become difficult to hear and differentiate. Usually, it’s the sh- and th- sounds that are muffled. But another typical example is when the “s” and “f” sounds get mixed up.
Get a hearing exam
No matter how many of these early red flags you may experience, there’s really only one way to know, with certainty, whether your hearing is going bad: get a hearing exam.
You might be experiencing hearing loss if you are experiencing any one of these symptoms. And if any impairment you may have, a hearing assessment will be able to tell you how far gone it is. And then you’ll be better equipped to determine the best treatment.
This will help you have a much more enjoyable time at that next family get-together.